Residents: Why are we still living like this?

Residents 'feel helpless' after two-day storm

Last updated 05:00 06/03/2014
Photo: Joseph Johnson/Fairfax NZ Zoom
Krystal Merrick and Dan Evans from the NZRT-12 Emergency Response/Rescue Team travel up the Heathcote River flooding waters along Riverlaw Terrace in their new rescue boat, donated from the lotteries ministry travel with a Red Cross member from RC23 team.
Christchurch flooding gallery
HELPING HAND: Red Cross workers waded through muddy waters to check residents were ok.

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Storm-battered Christchurch residents are trying to remain resilient after another natural disaster damaged their homes and upended lives.

Many residents in the worst-affected areas say they feel helpless after the two-day storm.

Francis Ave resident Alison Naylor's St Albans' home was one of dozens of inundated properties. She felt helpless about what had happened.

"Something should have been done after the flooding last year, but we've had no help."

The Flockton basin, in the St Albans/Mairehau area, suffered severe flooding with the water level in parts of the suburbs reaching waist-height.

Many residents evacuated their homes while others watched helplessly as the floodwaters swept through their properties.

People spoken to by The Press were visibly upset about the damage to their homes while others were angry that nothing had been done as a result of similar flooding in the same area last year.

Naylor said seeing her home in such a state was "absolutely devastating".

"I live by myself and I can't do this . . . I can't ring work every time it rains and tell them I can't go in because I'm flooded again.

"I want to know what will be done and I want to see some action before this winter.

"I expected a little bit of water but nothing like this . . . I woke up at about 5am because my cat jumped on my bed and she was wet and I looked down and there was five inches of water everywhere," she said.

The land the house sits on had dropped by about 40 centimetres after the earthquakes.

Linda Wells moved into a rental property on the corner of Carrick and Flockton streets in October and said experiencing the flooding was "worse than the earthquake".

Wells and her 20-year-old son evacuated their home about 4am yesterday after waking to find water slowly creeping into their hallway.

"I just can't believe it to be honest . . . My car is in the garage and will be ruined. We just had to put stuff high up and hope for the best but I don't know what to do now."

She contacted Civil Defence and was "piggybacked to the truck when they arrived".

Wells and her son spent the evening at the emergency centre at Mairehau School before being picked up by some friends.

"It's really scary and it makes you feel so helpless."

After watching large parts of Mairehau become submerged by floodwater, Jo Byrne is demanding answers.

The Carrick St resident "felt sick to her stomach" when she saw the damage to her home.

Unlike last year's flooding in the Flockton basin area, when about 30 homes were flooded, whole streets were under water yesterday.

"Our homes are insured, our land is insured so why after three years are we still living like this?"

Byrne said EQC had said land claims would be settled by the end of the year but that would be far too long for many residents.

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"We've got another winter to get through . . . it's a disgrace."

Across town, residents face a big cleanup after the Heathcote River burst its banks.

Mike Barber had to wade through waist-deep water to salvage items from his flooded home.

Like others living next to the Heathcote River, he had watched helplessly as it burst its banks and swamped the area.

"I don't know how it got this deep, this quick. It's nuts," he told The Press.

Barber, who was uninsured, woke to the river lapping against the doorstep of the pale blue house he rented on the corner of Sheldon St and Clarendon Tce, Woolston, yesterday.

By mid-morning, carpet inside the home was covered by about 30cm of dirty brown water.

Any items of value had been shifted to higher ground.

There was little else Barber could do but put on a brave face and wait for the rain to stop and water levels to subside.

His flatmate had simply left the mess behind and gone to work.

Further south along the river, Glen Fife tried in vain to push his partially submerged car from the grips of the flood-waters that had engulfed parts of Marshall St. In the end, he called in a favour from Titan Cranes colleague Darryn Perfect who helped haul out the vehicle using one of the company's cranes. Dirty brown water spilled out onto the street as he opened the car's doors. His house had not been damaged and his wife and two children were safe.

"We survived an earthquake - what's a flood?"

- The Press


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